After 17 years of teaching—13 of them in overseas schools--Ami Wolsey still loves what she does. She'll also tell you she fell into teaching, but from the start, the elements were in place. After a year of university abroad, she was urged by her parents, both educators, to apply for a well-paying job in a before-and-after school program at a nearby public school. In addition to her before-and-after school duties, she was hired as the lunch room assistant and as the sports coordinator for young children in the summers. This work paid her way through university, but more importantly, Ami found her calling. She describes the most fulfilling aspect of teaching:
"I love creating an environment where kids are excited to come to school, no matter what ability level they are. Making [the topic I'm] teaching make sense to my students, through authentic connections to their lives, draws on my creative/strategic strengths."
Ami's career began in Toronto, where she did her best to teach a classroom of 33 Grade 1 students with many needs and a wide range of abilities. Professional development, which she pursued and funded herself, left her feeling ill-equipped to provide a quality education. Her parents, who had "retired" and landed teaching positions overseas, inspired her. They were traveling the world and living their dream. Ami decided "to take a risk and try something new!"
Since making the decision to teach abroad, Ami has taught three years at the Canadian International School of Singapore, five at the International School of Beijing, two at the International School of Dusseldorf, and two at Gems International School - Al Khail. This year, she began at the American School of Singapore. Ami explains what keeps the fire burning:
"In so many of the schools I have been to internationally, they want their teachers to be the cutting edge of learning. They invest in you to be the best that you can be. As a lifelong learner, I have taken the opportunity to do as many professional development courses as I can, to make myself better. . . For me that is important."
Ami is also grateful for the flexibility that international schools allow within their curriculum. She adds,
"Because I am creative, that is also where I can really design and add input to the structures already put into place."
Ami first learned about Search Associates when Senior Associate Harry Deelman and his assistant Margaret Deelman visited the Canadian International School, Singapore (CIS). She says,
"[Harry and Margaret] have been with me ever since. . . I value their advice a great deal because they know what I am looking for and what will make me happy and want to stay. Not only has it been one of the best organized agencies, but the personalized attention given to you to mull over decisions with the advisers is invaluable. In my experience, if Harry has not been there, Ray Sparks has stepped up to the plate to counsel me and advise me. All of the advisers I have come across have given me the individualized attention I needed to make the best decision for me."
Ami has attended Search Associates job fairs in Boston, London, and Bangkok. She's had the most luck in Boston because many schools recruiting at the London and Bangkok fairs are looking for teaching couples, and she is single. She uses searchassociates.com in order to gather data on different schools, which she saves under "Favorites" and contacts her many connections in schools across the globe to get their opinions. When actively job hunting, Ami checks the website daily to view schools, make contacts, and see what is new.
Ami offers sound advice to those seeking jobs in international schools:
- Take the time to do your research about the school, its city, and the country.
- Contact someone who has worked at the school "to ask those difficult questions."
- Don't feel bullied into taking a job before you are ready.
- Use your advisers at Search Associates. They are there to support you!
"…realize this is a journey, and there will be bumps in the road. Enjoy the opportunities the world has to offer!"